Getting to Southampton was a nightmare journey: boat show, football, 3 departing cruise ships and the return of the students caused a serious traffic jam and many people were getting anxious. We went early but even so we were 2 hours later than we should have been. My advice to anyone is go early to ensure you get there on time. When we arrived the welcome was superb and all the stresses of the journey melted away.
The ship is luxury. The decor, displays of artwork, furniture etc is fabulous all over the ship. The stateroom was very comfortable and the staff looked after us very well, nothing was too much trouble. I enjoyed having a kettle - a 'Brit' thing no doubt, but very welcome. We had a fabulous balcony and being in the centre of the ship was a bonus...no creaking, minimum movement and close to the lifts.
Food, excellent. We had a table by a window in Moonlight Sonata and we watched the dolphins as we ate! Service was excellent. There was more food available than anyone could eat. Our companions were excellent company and we made several friends. We loved joining in the many 'Happy Birthday' celebrations and I'm sure we were considered the noisy lot in the corner. We also ate in Merano. It was excellent and very high quality. I do think the alcohol is expensive and I'm sure if they sold carafes of house wine at a reasonable rate they would sell far more. We felt the package would encourage us to drink too much so we bought as we went along. Cold drinks, tea, coffee etc were freely available in parts of the ship so that was good.
Carl Pucl was an outstanding entertainer. He organised the team trivia (brilliant), the treasure hunt (exhausting), the Titanic talks (which I highly recommend), the choir (very popular) as well as many other activities including an impromptu talk about the life of the crew. He made the cruise for many. The rest of the entertainment was quite good. We particularly enjoyed the comedian, the opera singer and the violinist. They all worked hard.
We enjoyed our cruise and are planning another!